Can Milk Protein Allergy Cause Ear Infections?

Consuming foods that trigger an allergic reaction places you at greater risk of developing secondary infections. Most symptoms from a milk allergy are the result of inflammation throughout the body. An ear infection can occur if you continue to ingest dairy products with a milk protein allergy. If you suspect you may have an ear infection, call your doctor for an evaluation. Avoid consuming all diary products and talk with a registered dietician about a dairy elimination diet.

Milk, cheese and other dairy products. (Image: didecs/iStock/Getty Images)

Milk Protein Allergy

A milk protein allergy occurs when your immune system mistakes the proteins in diary products as a potentially dangerous substance. Milk contains whey and casein proteins that may be found in more than the obvious dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese. Milk proteins may be used in hard candy, nondairy products, protein powders, artificial butter flavor and caramel, according to the Mayo Clinic. If a packaged food contains milk proteins, the manufacturer is required by law to place an allergy warning near the ingredients that states the food product contains milk.

Inflammation

When the immune system overreacts to milk proteins, it causes the creation of immunoglobulin E antibodies, histamine and other chemicals that are released in the blood stream and soft tissues. These chemicals cause swelling, inflammation and increased blood flow to various systems in your body, such as the cardiovascular system, skin, respiratory system and digestive system. Inflammation throughout the body leads to sinus congestion, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, coughing, skin rashes and irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to Kids Health.

Ear Infection Cause

An ear infection occurs when the tube in your ear that drains fluid gets blocked. After consuming dairy products, the soft tissue in your sinuses and inner ear can become swollen, cutting off your ability to drain mucus in the ears. The trapped mucus becomes an environment for bacteria to grow. An ear infection will cause fullness in the ear, a popping sound in the ear, ear pain, diarrhea, vomiting, temporary hearing loss and a low-grade fever. If you notice discharge or blood draining from your ear, call your doctor immediately.

Treatment

If you are allergic to milk proteins, you need to avoid all milk products to prevent an ear infection. The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital states that chewing gum, using a nasal decongestant spray and an oral antihistamine can help alleviate some symptoms associated with ear congestion. Your doctor may prescribe antibodies to kill the infection.

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